by Kris Maze
Whether you are an indie writer looking at new markets or a newbie building up a writing portfolio, consider trying these ways to get traditionally published. What will be your next steps with your work?
3 Methods to Share YOUR Work in 2020
1. Identify agents or publishers who best fit your project
- Read agent bios using online databases like AgentQuery.com or Querytracker.net to find those who represent (rep) your genre. Most editors and agents are very specific about what they want in their inbox. Pro tip: Extra research here can give you an edge as you demonstrate how your work fulfills their needs. Make a list of 5-10 you want to focus on.
- Look up books these agents rep and find similarities that might make them interested in your work. Let them know why they should consider your book? Pro tip: This helps you identify comparison (comp) books to include in your query letters as well.
- Verify what these industry professionals want by visiting their social media feeds. Manuscript Wish List Ⓡ or #MSWL is a useful handle on Twitter. This is where agents and editors request what they want to come across their desk. Does your work fit an editor’s description? How does your book compare to the other works an agent represents? Pro tip: Be honest about your writing and find someone who represents other books like yours.
- Narrow your list to 5 or less and keep the others as a backup. No one likes to be a part of a long list of spam. Revise your query letters, tailored to each agent or editor. Pro tip: Be sure to follow their specifications for submissions exactly. Let them know you are paying attention and would be a good author to work with.
2. Submit to contests, blogs, web content, and journals
Using contests, journals, and blogs remains an excellent way to build a writer's portfolio. There are many venues to get your work published. It is a competitive field, so get in the mindset of producing your best work before sending it out. Follow the steps of good editing and use beta readers. Revising your work both sharpens your craft and builds your reputation as an author. Submitting your work can get you noticed. Where do you find these opportunities?
Writers use many databases to gain insight into the publishing market. Here are a few favorites to try:
Duotrope has been popular database of writing opportunities for years, but currently only offers a 7-day free trial followed by a $5.00 per month fee. They also have a discounted rate if you pay $50 for the year.
Submission Grinder is a free database that focuses on fiction and poetry. They keep track of statistics on how many submissions, rejections, and accepted work a publisher has in the market. They also track the amounts paid for work. They do not include nonfiction.
Submittable has many features to enable easier searches and has a clean interface. Writers make an account first, but access to the variety of open submissions inside makes it worth it. Like a one-stop shop, you can search opportunities and enter your projects all in one place. Free for writers, the publishers may ask for a reasonable $3 to cover their costs when submitting work.
The Discover feature allows you to research the market by genre, key words, due date, writing type, or whether contests require a fee. Writers can follow certain publishers, track opportunities, or discover new ones. The default feature includes only what you search for in order by most recent due date.
Submittable has a handy dashboard that tracks your entries. Writers see their submissions as ‘in progress’, ‘accepted’ or ‘declined’ over time. This may help you expand into other areas or identify other markets for your work. When sending out work to multiple publishers, this site helps keep your process organized.
3. Join a newsletter that does the research for you.
These newsletters create lists of opportunities by genre, topic, or special interest. They link submission pages, websites, and their research on the publisher’s history and pay structure. Oftentimes opportunities are from various regions around the world and cover a wide variety of topics.
They tend to send their newsletters with writing deadlines within the month. I find these prompt me to revise short stories as I often have something in the hopper I can polish up when the right genre passes by. Searching the market often inspires me to write more as I learn about potential publishers. Consider using deadlines as a motivation for yourself.
Authors Publish offers books on writing advice and curated publishers for certain writing types. Their books have a paid and free option. The publishers are usually open to new unagented writers and do not charge entry fees.
How could you use contests and open submissions to build your portfolio? Are the projects you started during the pandemic of 2020 a treasure trove waiting to be mined? Pull out those projects and see where you can place them today.
Get your work out there! Submit online and stay a safe social distance. Take these steps and realize your writing goals. You could make someone's day or help them escape the doldrums with your story!
Have you had success with writing for a publication or won a contest? Brag or make a suggestion for our readers in the comments.
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Kris Maze has worked in education for 25 years and writes for various publications including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and Writers in the Storm. Her first YA Science fiction book, IMPACT, arrives in June 2020 and is published through Aurelia Leo.
Keep up with the latest stories from Kris Maze along with author events at her website. A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors with her family. She also ponders the wisdom of Bob Ross.
Set in post-pandemic Wind City, a young journalist races time as an incoming asteroid with certain destruction. Nala Nightingale must decide between broadcasting the news of a lifetime or discovering keys to her orphaned past.
Trapped underground with a mysterious scientist named Edison and his chess master AI, can Nala Nightingale find the will to live and to love in a dystopian future?
To find out more about IMPACT, click here.